News from the field

How Kids Learn V Conference Focuses on Youth Career Development

Every year, Cityspan co-sponsors the How Kids Learn conference organized by Temescal Associates and the Learning in Afterschool and Summer Project (LIAS). This year we were excited to attend the event in our own backyard!  Held December 10, 2015 at the David Brower Center in downtown Berkeley, the conference brought together school and community-based providers and researchers to discuss how to prepare youth for successful careers. With college drop-out rates at a record high, developing career pathways and workforce development opportunities for youth is critical.

To provide context to the discussion, Jenny Nagaoka, Deputy Director at the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research presented a developmental framework recently published by the Consortium.  “Foundations for Young Adult Success” offers valuable insight into the developmental experiences and relationships necessary to help youth succeed as adults. The report also confirms what out-of-school-time practitioners already know to be true, that an opportunity gap exists for disadvantaged youth that have limited access to developmental learning opportunities.

The conference challenged practitioners to explore ways to address this opportunity gap and help youth develop the “soft skills” that encourage success in the workforce. Presenters highlighted strategies that can be implemented in out-of-school time programs such as linked learning initiatives that connect disadvantaged youth with employers, youth entrepreneurship programs, and using digital badges to recognize learning.

Many of the strategies discussed were familiar to Cityspan, who has partnered with several clients to support youth workforce development initiatives. In Chicago, Cityspan developed an online registration system to connect youth with employers through the One Summer Chicago and 100k Opportunities Initiatives. In Providence and Boston, Cityspan piloted an innovative digital STEM badge system that uses criteria-based evidence to award youth badges for competencies in science, technology, engineering and math.
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